Max Cavalera rejoining Sepultura – there, the only mention of this happening that you’ll read in this review, probably one of the most talked about non-events in metal.
With that out of the way, focus yet again turns to Soulfly, the band started up by Max in 1997 following his departure from the Brazilian posse. Incredibly, this is the band’s eighth album since the release of the self-titled, nu-metal flavoured debut in 1998, and sees them following the thrashier path first trodden on 2008’s Conquer. But whereas their last effort, 2010’s Omen, married tribal thrashings with catchy, hardcore anthems, Soulfly seem to have discovered a slightly more deathly metallic approach.
Enslaved kicks off with the bombastic, industrial-feeling intro of ‘Resistance’ before ‘World Scum’, with its bass / double-kick drum attack introducing new members Tony Campos (Static-X / Prong) and David Kinkade (Borknagar), setting the pattern for the album – hyper-speed riffing interspersed with heavier breakdowns. The track also features Travis Ryan from Cattle Decapitation on guest growls (DevilDriver frontman Dez Fafara also makes a guest appearance on the song ‘Redemption Of Man By God’) as if to try and appear cool with the death metal kids. However, Soulfly were never a death metal band, and despite a stunning performance from Kinkade it does seem in places they may be trying too hard to be something they’re not.
That’s not to say it doesn’t work – in places it does, especially the magnificent ‘Intervention’ and the angst-filled ‘Treachery’; the latter being one of the fastest songs the band have produced. But Soulfly will always have that nu-metal dynamic to them, and it is clear that some songs may have been written with a festival crowd in mind with fist-in-the-air, shout-along choruses, as evident in ‘Gladiator’.
But what first set Soulfly apart from the crowd upon their inception was their world music influence carried on from Sepultura’s landmark Roots album in 1996, and upon first listen it is more noticeable in its absence, with only smatterings spread throughout the eleven tracks on offer. Even the obligatory ‘Soulfly’ instrumental is omitted, barring an appearance on the special edition.
The album closes with ‘Revengeance’, penned and performed by Max with his sons (Richie, Zyon and Igor Jr.) as a tribute to his murdered stepson, Dana Wells. And judging by their performance, a Nolan Sisters-type Cavalera band may not seem as ridiculous as it sounds.
So, eight albums in and Soulfly are still to make that killer album that will elevate them above the heights achieved by Sepultura in the mid-90s, but Enslaved is a solid enough effort that will satisfy those who yearn for a Seps / Max reunion. Okay, two mentions.